Creative Writing Retreat 2018

6th – 13th October 2018 at Rancho Las Cascadas, Mexico

Looking for time to write? Join bestselling authors Melvin Burgess and Lucy Christopher for seven days of free time to write, ride, swim, sunbathe and take inspiration from the wonderful surroundings at Rancho Las Cascadas.

This luxury Mexican Writing Retreat offers free horse riding and yoga, all food and drink inclusive, pool, hot tub, plus the chance to explore this lovely part of Mexico on horseback and with our included excursions.

Your time can be divided between writing and riding, with up to one hour 1-2- 1 individual writing tutorials from Melvin and Lucy included each day as well as several optional group writing workshops. There is as much horse-riding as you wish!

All-inclusive price: 7 days of 1-2- 1 tutorials with Melvin and Lucy, several writing workshops, horse- riding, yoga, excursions, all meals and drinks (inc alcohol), luxury accommodation with no single supplement, airport transfers – $2175 US.

For more details and to book email Jenny at and see our Facebook page

December 7, 2017 in General by

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2017 Creative Writing Retreat Success

From 14th – 21st October, we ran our second Creative Writing Retreat at the Rancho. And what a wonderful, inspiring and generative week we had!

Together, Melvin Burgess and me (Lucy Christopher) tutored our students individually on their work-in- progress, as well as provided workshops on getting started, story structure, plot, editing, and setting (among other topics!). With the help of a pre-course questionnaire, the week was absolutely tailored to what the students wanted to learn.

Our mornings began in the divine new ‘Crystal Palace’ studio with early morning yoga (bodies need to be warmed up as well as brains!), followed by breakfast, and then our morning writing workshops. Lunch in the studio came next, followed by afternoons where students could write, or ride, or maybe do a bit of both. Before dinner was individual tutorials on their work, and after dinner came the tutor readings, or storytelling beside a bonfire. Mid-week we took our fearless band of writers on an excursion to Tula for some very Mexican creative inspiration. Top off the week with a visit from the wonderful Mexican publisher, Renato Aranda (who even arrived with Mescal to share), and we had one fabulously glorious time.

A particular highlight for me was the opportunity to ride with the students in the afternoon. On long, lazy walks through fields of vivid Mexican sunflowers, I enjoyed chatting to students about their novels or writing journey. There’s something about riding that makes thinking – and talking about thinking – just so much more relaxed, and easy. Together, we sorted out many a creative thorn during those rides.

This year our students called the week “transformative”, “amazing” and “exhilarating”. I’m going to add onto the list, as one of their teachers, that I found the week absolutely inspiring – I always find it so personally enriching to watch students achieve something new with their creativity, and to learn something helpful about their writing process. There were so many creative breakthroughs this year, it was so lovely to watch. And I, too, thought about new ideas and different ways of approaching my process.

2018 Earlybird discount – 10% off!

If you want to experience our amazing Creative Writing Retreat for yourselves, we are running it again in 2018 between the 6th – 13th October (when the flowers are out!). AND if you book in the next thirty days, we are even offering an EARLYBIRD DISCOUNT of 10% off the entire all-inclusive stay (only $1,957 USD for 7 nights, including airport transfers, single occupancy, all food and drink, yoga, riding, excursions and of course all writing tutorials and workshops).

Next year we plan to focus and tailor our retreat towards students who need a little more time, nurturing, and individual focus on their work. We will be offering more individual tutorials on work-in- progress with Melvin and I (up to an hour a day!), more time for writing and creative meditation, and slightly fewer group workshops. It’ll be the ideal retreat for those who need to unstick themselves from creative block, or who need that extra push to get their work-in- progress finished. Of course, the week still comes with all the loved extras of excursions, special guests, evening talks, and creative surprises!

Please email Jenny for more information or bookings at

Alternatively, you can find out more information and join the Mexican Creative Writing
Retreat community on our Facebook page

Hasta luego, Writers!
Write well, write happy…

October 24, 2017 in General by

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Writing in the wild

Saturday 24 June 2017
10am – 4:30pm, Newport Wetlands

Are you a budding Gerald Durrel? Do you wish you could write? Now is your chance!

On the 24th of June 2017, the RSPB Newport Wetlands near Newport are proud to host “Writing in the Wild” – a writing course aimed at adults who would love to unlock their creativity.

Dr Lucy Christopher is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University as well as a renowned successful author; her books include “Fly away”, “The Killing Woods” and “Stolen” which have been long listed for the Carnegie Award, shortlisted for the Costa Prize, the Waterstones Prize, Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and have won the Branford Boase and the Printz Honor Award.

She will encourage and inspire us to engage with our natural environment and capture, on the page, the settings and the places we will use in our own writing.

The course will cover fictional writing and includes one-to-one advice from an inspirational writer, many opportunities to engage with the beautiful environment, a guided tour of the Wetlands Reserve, to share ideas, to try new styles and approaches- and of course to write!

The event is supported by Literature Wales and no previous writing experience is necessary, just the desire to be creative and capture nature in the printed world.

How to book

This is always a popular weekend so early booking is essential, it’s £48 for RSPB members and £60 for non members.

Contact the Wetlands on 01633 636363 or at

Who knows what talent you will release?

June 13, 2017 in General, Writing Retreat by

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Lucy is interviewed by 11 year old Orla Ambrose about her writing and new work.

Here is gorgeous Orla Ambrose interviewing Lucy Christopher about her writing process and about her new work – you might even get a sneak preview of the new book if you keep watching! :-)

Interview with Lucy Christopher by Orla Ambrose from Lucy Christopher on Vimeo.

11year old Orla interviews Lucy about her writing and her latest book for Young Adults.

November 2, 2016 in General, Lucy Speaks, Random Thoughts, Videos by

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Creative Writing Retreat at Rancho Las Cascadas

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A Specialist Week of tutoring in Writing for Young People (to include writing for children and young adults).

November 12 –19, 2016

@ Rancho Las Cascadas –

Fiction for young people often uses wild places and natural settings in innovative and evocative ways. What better place to explore this powerful combination than in the beautiful and luxurious Rancho Las Cascadas … complete with waterfalls, stunning natural vistas, authentic Mexican villages, and even wonderful local creole horses! How could you not want to write stories?

Join award-winning, bestselling and groundbreaking authors Melvin Burgess and Lucy Christopher in discovering what it takes to write new and original fiction for a younger audience.

Through exercises, workshops, lectures, one-on-one tutorials, fieldwork and “serious play” in this amazing setting, Melvin and Lucy will introduce some of the key components for beginning, or developing work, for a young audience. They will discuss how to find an original voice, how to push boundaries, as well as how basic elements such as character, setting and plot can enliven and deepen a creative piece. Come prepared to experiment, begin or develop new work, and open your mind to this exciting and innovative area of fiction.


This course is suitable for writers both new to the discipline of Writing for Young People, as well as writers who want to work and develop existing work in this field. Depending on the ability, and desires, of the group, Melvin and Lucy may also conduct some teaching and research activities in the field, perhaps even on horseback! This will be a specialist, intense and hugely enjoyable course taught with fun and care and absolutely tailored to the group’s needs.

As well as the writing course itself, guests will be able to enjoy as much horse riding as they wish (and can fit in). There is a lovely pool and hot tub (overlooking the waterfall), and there will be yoga classes on request (of three guests or more).  Delicious food, drink and alcohol (including lovingly-prepared cocktails) all come as standard too. Each day there will be several hours put aside for guests to do with as they please – write, ride, swim, walk to a local village, or just relax and be inspired.


COST will be $2175 all-inclusive for seven nights (all group and individual writing tuition, guest lectures, all food and drink and all alcohol, luxury accommodation in a private room, airport transfers, and all horse-riding and yoga)

Email Jenny at the Rancho to book your stay


A typical day could consist of:

  • 8:00 – 9:00 am: Breakfast on the Terrace
  • 9:30 am – 12:30/1:00 pm:  Morning Creative Writing Workshop – This could be on character, voice, setting, research, constraints of writing for young people, dialogue etc.
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch beside the waterfall
  • 2:00 – 7:00 pm: Individual Tutorial Slot with the Creative Writing Tutor/s and/or Free Time for writing stories, riding horses, doing yoga, relaxing by the pool, excursion to a local village, getting inspired etc. Tutor/s may also join in an afternoon ride with the students if time permits
  • 7:00 pm: Mexican Dinner
  • After Dinner: Evening Talk and/or Reading


July 27, 2016 in General, Stolen, Teaching, The Killing Woods, Writing, Writing Retreat by

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Writing the Wild – creative writing workshop on June 18th

I’m running a full-day workshop in the beautiful Newport Wetlands nature reserve on the 18th June. It will focus on writing setting, and we will use the spectacular reserve for inspiration. This is the nature reserve where I once worked as a field guide, and the reserve that inspired much of my book FLYAWAY.

Details are here, and poster attached.

It would be GRAND to see you there. And possibly the best thing of all – half of the fee goes directly to the RSPB reserve for conservation of its special creatures and habitats.

RSPB Writing the Wild

‘Writing the Wild’ Creative Writing Workshop

Saturday 18 June

10am – 4pm

Price: RSPB members £36 / non members £45

Booking essential

Join award-winning author Lucy Christopher to discover the ways in which writing the wild and using setting can be important and inspiring for fiction. In a fun and interactive day of writing exercises and exploration, Lucy will guide you through the methods she uses to research and develop her novels.  No need to come with fiction already written but be prepared to explore, develop and have some serious play in this special, inspiring location!


RSPB Newport Wetlands

Where is it?

  • Postcode: NP18 2BZ
  • County: Newport

Contact us

June 10, 2016 in Flyaway, General, Writing by

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Riding And Writing At The Rancho – The Perfect Combination!



I came to Rancho Las Cascadas by accident. I had been invited to speak at the Guadalajara International Bookfair and I was looking for somewhere idyllic to spend a few days afterwards. I wanted rejuvenation and a bit of ‘soul-time’. Perhaps a beachside yoga retreat would revive me out of my current writer’s block; perhaps I could, even, return to UK winter with a tan.

Still, I hesitated to book. Maybe that particular ocean in front of that particular yoga retreat wasn’t quite the right inspiration for my novel-in-progress. Perhaps the yoga guests on the hotel’s website didn’t look too friendly? Maybe I could find a yoga retreat where I could ride a horse, too?

I typed many combinations into trusty Google. Horse yoga in Mexico yielded some particularly …ah … interesting results, though none returned as a combined yoga and riding retreat. Certainly, none of the retreats I discovered combined yoga, riding AND creative writing. Nevertheless, one website was persistent. Over and over again, the website for Rancho Las Cascadas begged me to consider it. But this place was all wrong, wasn’t it? It had no rejuvenating ocean waves, no barefoot peaceful yogis, and how would I find time for inspiration if I were gallivanting on horseback all day?


But, hey…the opening photo on their website looked like it was on a beach, sort of. And the guests in their photos looked friendly at least. And there were HORSES. Horses that looked exceedingly gorgeous from their photos no less.

I sent a cautious email to Jenny, the Rancho’s manager. She replied within minutes, almost beaming with smiles through the printed words. It took me about a day to change my plans from the Mexican Riveria to a Mexican Rancho.

I am so glad I did.

Not only did I find perfect rejuvenation and ‘soul-time’ at Rancho Las Cascadas, I found what I’d been searching for – inspiration and, yes, even time to write. Despite riding each day during the six days I was there, and even fitting in two wonderful yoga classes (yes, they DID do yoga and riding at the same place it seemed!), I wrote every day. I returned to the UK with half a story written for children about a wild horse, as well as a novel idea about horses. Now, I wonder where I got that inspiration?



The Rancho really is the perfect place to write – there is sunshine, smiles, peace, the calm of horses, and time to explore. However, best of all, I also returned with a wonderful idea for teaching. It was in the lazy haze after a yoga class that I spoke to Jenny about the possibility of running a Creative Writing Retreat at the Rancho. As always, Jenny was positive and helpful. Why not, she said, that would be fabulous!

And why not, indeed!

So, I’m doing it. And I cannot wait. Because, what really could be better than sunshine, writing books, riding horses and, yes, even a little yoga!

Watch this space for details about the Creative Writing Retreat I plan to hold at the magical Rancho Las Cascadas from November 12 -19, 2016.

If you’re interested, let Jenny know ( 

For more info on the Rancho –

June 3, 2016 in General, Lucy Speaks, Teaching, Writing, Writing Retreat by

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UKYA Egg Hunt !!


Welcome to this portion of the UKYA Easter Egg Hunt, brought to you by Lucy Christopher and Sarah Benwell! One very lucky winner will win a huge grand prize of signed books by over thirty YA authors who write and live in the UK. Up for grabs from us, are signed copies of THE KILLING WOODS and THE LAST LEAVES FALLING.

All you have to do is read this blog, count up how many UKYA branded Easter eggs you see in the blog, and follow the link at the end to the next blog. Keep going until you get bac to the blog where you started, and add up how many eggs you’ve seen along the way. Email your answer to: A winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries, and contacted by email. This closes at noon (UK time) on Sunday, 5th April, and is open internationally. So get finding those eggs! And some awesome UKYA authors and books along the way. Good luck!

Sooooo, since this is an Eastery extravaganza, we were thinking about chocolate. And books. And this led to the obvious question… If you could exchange chocolate for one UKYA title this Easter, what would it be, and why?

LUCY: Well, this is hard to choose! There are so many amazing titles. However, if I was going to pick JUST ONE to turn to instead of chocolate …. Well, it would have to be a title that would fulfil some of the elements that chocolate fills – it should be comforting, deep, exciting and addictive. Hmmmm. OK, I’m going to be totally old school here and pick Jenny Downham’s extraordinary debut title Before I Die. I’ve read this book several times already and I would still turn to it now instead of picking up that bumper bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. It has a big emotional story that makes me cry and smile, it has memorable characters that I easily fall in love with, and it stays in my mind long after the last page is turned ….. actually, can I please eat chocolate WHILE I read this? I may need it after the emotional rollercoaster this book will put me through when I reread it …. Please? I-READ-UKYA-75

SARAH: Hahaha, yeah, sure. Can I cheat? I’m going to cheat. I want MORE. I want to hold the Easter bunny hostage until he agrees to let me have SEVERAL books, if I’m giving up chocolate for it. I want Zoe Marriott’s SHADOWS ON THE MOON I-READ-UKYA-75for it’s world building and language and characterisation and just…everything is exquisite, like the best of chocolates. But I also want Tabitha Suzuma’s FORBIDDEN, for those moments when you need to gorge in the name of catharsis. And to that end, I sort of want to pick Patrick Ness’s A MONSTER CALLS, although to be honest that’d have me reaching for the chocolate!


LUCY: Hey, yeah … those are some great titles! FORBIDDEN, yes! I loved that book! OK, so this also got me thinking about the question of – if a book were a kind of chocolate, what would it be? Immediately, my mind drifted to your amazing debut title, The Last Leaves Falling. I can instantly see the kind of chocolate this book would be. It would obviously have to be a chocolate with a tie to Japan, where this book is set. It would need to be a chocolate that was quite daring, too, and extraordinary. Something both rich and delicate. Something bittersweet. Something complicated and sharp. OK. I’ve got it! Your debut novel HAS to be an expensively exquisite piece of Wasabi Dark Chocolate. It looks gorgeous (have I told you how much I love your cover?), and then, when you bite into it, you are hit with something powerful and strange and yet hugely, addictively, compelling. I love this book, Sarah… can you tell?

SARAH: Excuse me while I read that over and over. And maybe frame it… Huh. So I think THE KILLING WOODS would be…salted caramel. It’s got that luxurious richness of your descriptive settings, that familiarity and comfort, but also something unexpected and exciting, a saltiness that wakes you up andleaves you thirsty for more, desperately turning the pages/ taking another piece. (Um. I may have a little bit of a love affair with both this particular chocolate and this book. When’s the next one out, Lucy? Give me moooooore.) And now I’m hungry. Damn it.

Also! I’d LOVE to hear reader’s thoughts. What could you sub out for chocolate? And what sort of chocolate do you think your favourite books would be

Tell us in the comments!I-READ-UKYA-100PX

Count your eggs, and follow the trail…how many more can you find?

March 19, 2015 in General by


US Book Tour for The Killing Woods – MORE DATES ADDED

Hi Everyone – here are a few more dates for my upcoming The Killing Woods US Tour. Really hope I can see lots of my wonderful readers and thank you in person for being so great.  – Lucy :-)


Tuesday January 21st: Seattle

PUBLIC talk at University Bookstore, Bellevue (with author Sara Larson), 6pm


Wednesday January 22nd / Thursday January 23rd : Seattle

Winter Institute


Saturday January 25th / Sunday January 26th: Philadelphia

ALA Conference


Sunday January 26th: Haverford, PA

PUBLIC event at Children’s Book World, 7pm (with authors David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell)


Monday January 27th: NYC

PUBLIC event at McNally Jackson Bookstore, 52 Prince St, NYC, (with authors David Levithan and Gayle Forman), 7pm


Thursday January 30th: Charlottesville, VA

PUBLIC event at Barnes and Noble, Barracks Road Shopping Center, 1035 Emmet St Suite A, (with author Maggie Stiefvater), 7pm.


Saturday February 1st: Hadley, Massachusetts

PUBLIC event at Odyssey Books, 9 College Street, South Hadley, 4pm


Sunday February 2nd: Rhinebeck, New York

PUBLIC event at Oblong Books, 6422 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, 4pm (with authors Len Vlaho and Margaux Froley).


January 18, 2014 in Book Tours, General, The Killing Woods by

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US Book Tour for The Killing Woods – DATES

Hi everyone,


I’m thrilled to say I am now on a US Book Tour for my new novel, The Killing Woods.

Here are some of the dates of my events if you want to come along (would love to see you!!)


Tuesday January 21st: Seattle

PUBLIC talk at University Bookstore, Bellevue (with author Sara Larson), from 6.15pm


Wednesday January 22nd / Thursday January 23rd : Seattle

Winter Institute


Saturday January 25th / Sunday January 26th: Philadelphia

ALA Conference


Sunday January 26th: Haverford, PA


PUBLIC event at Children’s Book World, 7pm (with authors David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell)


Monday January 27th: NYC

PUBLIC event at McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St, NYC, (with authors David Levithan and Gayle Forman)


Saturday February 1st: Hadley, Massachusetts

PUBLIC event at Odyssey Books, 9 College Street, South Hadley


Sunday February 2nd: Rhinebeck, New York

PUBLIC event at Oblong Books, 4pm (with authors Len Vlaho and Margaux Froley). 6422 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck


I’m also really excited to say that I am writing this from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I am currently a Writer in Residence.  I am loving every moment of being here.  VCFA run a wonderful MFA programme in Writing for Children and Young Adults and it is very interesting seeing it in action. We are hoping that the university where I work (Bath Spa University) will be able to partner with them in their residency next year.  Exciting!


Hope you are all well and happy and thoughtful,





January 16, 2014 in General by

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